24 Month OPT STEM Extension
March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its final rule to strengthen and enhance the optional practical training program (OPT) for F-1 international students in science, Technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
- You have completed your degree in one of the following areas: Science Technology Engineering or Mathematics with a qualifying Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Code.
Qualifying FDU degrees
- Bachelor’s degree in: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Clinical Laboratory Science, Civil Engineering Technology, Computer Science, Construction Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering, Electrical Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Medical Technology, Information Technology, Mathematics, Marine Biology, BA in Science.
- Master’s degree in: Biology, Chemistry, Cosmetic Science, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, Electronic Commerce, Electrical Engineering, Management Information Systems (MS degree), Mathematics, Supply Chain Management.
If your FDU degree was in any other academic major, you are not eligible to apply for the OPT STEM extension.
If you have earned a STEM degree from another US institution within the previous 10 years you may qualify for a 24 Month OPT STEM extension with that degree.
You are currently on Standard Post Completion OPT.
The STEM Extension job is related to a STEM degree you have received and are apply with.
The STEM Extension position is full time (minimum 20 hours per week) and paid.
You are within 90 days of the OPT completion date on your EAD card.
The STEM Extension employer is registered in the E-verify system.
- You have not completed 2 previous 24 month STEM Extensions. (Students may qualify for up to two 24 month STEM Extensions during their lifetime. If you have already used a 17 month STEM extension you may only receive one 24 month STEM Extension)
For a complete list of eligibility along with employer criteria and responsibilities, visit the USCIS webpage:
To apply for the 24 month OPT STEM extension you may download the packet, which contains a complete list of items needed for your application, or visit The Office of International Student Services:
You are not required to come to ISS to submit the packet. You may download the packet and submit the required documents to email@example.com or bring the documents in person to ISS during normal business hours.
After submitting the necessary documents they will be reviewed by an ISS Advisor. You will receive a phone call within 5-7 business days to collect your new STEM Extension I-20 and documents. (Please be sure your voicemail is set up to receive phone calls)
ISS will allow your STEM extension documents to be shipped to you if you are unable to collect them in person. The shipping will be at your cost and will require you to ship your documents through E-ship Global services. If you wish to choose this option please indicate on the STEM OPT Request Form. You will be emailed instructions on the E-ship Global service.
As part of the return process, you will receive the following:
- Your OPT I-20 and STEM Extension OPT return packet which will include;
- instructions on what remaining documents you must include for your application to USCIS
- a link to Tips to Complete Form I-765
- mailing instructions
- STEM extension rules and reporting requirements
It will be your responsibility to follow the Return Packet instructions and submit the required documents to USCIS.
RULES AFTER OPT STEM EXTENSION BEGINS
SEVP Portal: Students on approved OPT are required to have a SEVP Portal account in order to update certain information. https://sevp.ice.gov/opt/#/login
- Any Change of Address (where you physically live) is required to be entered into the SEVP Portal within 10 days of a change
- All work on the OPT STEM Extension must be in a paid position and a minimum of 20 hours per week.
- All work must be for an E-Verified employer.
- OPT Validation requires you to report your address and employer information every 6 months. ISS will contact you at the email in SEVIS when it is time to report.
- You are required to submit a self-evaluation on the I-983 to ISS within the first 12 months of any STEM employment. (1st evaluation on page 5 of I-983).
- You must submit a final evaluation to ISS at the end of the 24-month STEM Employment. (2nd evaluation on page 5 of I-983)
- Students on the OPT STEM extension are given 150 days of unemployment over their entire 36 month OPT period.
- If you have multiple employers during STEM OPT you must complete multiple I-983 forms and submit to ISS.
If you change employers while on the 24 Month STEM Extension you are required to do the following with 10 days of your change:
- Update the SEVP Portal with the end date of employment – Do not change your employer information in the SEVP Portal.
- Submit a new I-983 to the ISS email Inbox completed by you and your new employer.
- Submit a final self-evaluation (page 5 of your original I-983) completed by you and your previous employer.
- ISS will enter your new employer information into SEVIS – you may check your new employer information in the SEVP Portal after you receive confirmation of the update from the DSO.
- With a change of employer you will be contacted and receive a new I-20 with the updated employer information.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR STEM STUDENTS
The new STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved STEM field and effectively replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension as of May 10, 2016. The rule increases the OPT extension period for STEM OPT students from the 2008 IFR's 17 months to 24 months. The final rule also makes F-1 students who subsequently enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.
Study in the States launched the STEM OPT Hub in coordination with this new rule to help school officials, F-1 students and interested employers understand the new regulation. On the STEM OPT Hub, stakeholders can find information regarding:
- The new Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.”
- Reporting requirements for designated school officials (DSOs), students and employers.
- Eligibility requirements for students and guidance for DSOs to recommend OPT.
- Employer site visits.
- The DHS STEM Designated Degree List.
To read the entire Final 24 Month OPT STEM Extension Regulation visit the below link:
Federal register Final Rule (regulation)
It is the responsibility of the employer to determine if the position qualifies as an OPT STEM Extension opportunity based on USCIS policy guidance as well as US Department of Homeland Security Regulations. Should your employer consider themselves in compliance with immigration regulations and policies, students may submit the appropriate documentation to ISS for STEM OPT processing.
***ISS will process your STEM Extension application based on completeness of the submitted documents but is not responsible for verifying eligibility of the position or the employer/employee relationship.